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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tannas


It was an amazing first time experience at Literary Orange on April 2, 2016.

This event is sponsored by Orange County Public Libraries at the Irvine Marriott.  The speakers were challenging and stimulating as they shared their stories of becoming successful authors.

The first Keynote Speaker:  J. Ryan Stradal, gave us an amusing background of how he used himself as a Midwesterner for the basis of his novel.  “Kitchens of the Great Midwest,” an amusing title in itself, is rich with people we all know or grew up with.  Reviews are available online.

His funniest line…”I grew up in a place where vegetables were always served in jello.”  Not a direct quote…but it caught my attention as I remembered those church potlucks I attended as a kid where green jello always contained grated carrots and celery and red jello was often filled with apple slices, and orange jello gave us those wonderful canned mandarin oranges. (inject my rolling eyes here)  Sometimes the veggies were disguised as sweets when the jello, of any color, was slathered with thick whip cream.   I highly recommend the book. The audio of the book was generously donated by Random House for all attendees.  Each chapter in this original debut tells the story of how a single dish or ingredient came into the protagonist’s life.  Fun!

The second Keynote Speaker was Melanie Benjamin, author of best seller…”The Swans of Fifth Avenue.”  This fact-based novel deals with the people in the life of Truman Capote during his peak of success and after his fall from society.  Melanie also is the author of “The Aviator’s Wife.”  Great speaker!

The third Keynote speaker was the beloved Debbie Macomber.  Her publishing house also donated her latest book, “A Girl’s Guide to Moving On.”  A great read!  Her story of how she became successful as a writer was heartwarming, and she won my heart with her faith in herself.  She is one of my favorite authors.  And Debbie’s speech was a rousing success.  She’s written many of the Hallmark shows.  Her dream is to write and produce a show on Broadway.  I wish her much success.

In addition to the speakers, there were many panels where you could hear authors tell stories about their genres.  It was a wonderful day spent with fellow writers and meeting people in the world of literature.  If you are a writer, or simply a lover of books and reading, I highly recommend this yearly event.

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